Towards an Inclusive Play Culture for Children of All Abilities: Qualitative Research on Dutch Parents’ Experiences at Local Playgrounds
Heusden, E.J. van
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Children have the right to participate in outdoor play with peers. In most playgrounds, children with a disability lack opportunities for social interaction and social inclusion. Globally, a lack of policy and very little research has been done into the experiences of parents in play at local playgrounds. For this qualitative study, 15 parents of children both with and without disabilities were interviewed in depth. The aim was to increase knowledge on inclusive play, to illustrate good existing practises and to formulate recommendations towards an more inclusive play culture in the Netherlands. Parents and their children with disabilities generally have less positive experiences at local playgrounds than those without disabilities. Besides the physical environment, the social environment must also be adapted to suit the possibilities and wishes of all children in play. This study underlines the need for more social inclusion and societal acceptance towards children with disabilities and the need for community-oriented approaches. This can only be made possible if municipalities, educational institutes and professionals work together with parents and the children themselves. By making the broader social environment welcoming and suitable for all children, differences and vulnerabilities can transform into possibilities and strengths.